In this ever-litigious society of ours, it is comforting to see reason prevail on occasion, and the court's recent decision in Summers v. Target Corporation, Case No. 18-C-32 (E.D. Wis. 2019) is a good example. In Summers, an employee contended that his supervisor caused him anxiety, stress, palpitations and panic disorders, for which he was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. He took a medical leave and his therapist recommended that he be transferred to another location (and hence, a new supervisor) as an accommodation of his condition. When Target refused, he resigned and sued for failure to accommodate under the ADA.
Employers have a legal obligation to accommodate work-related conflicts posed by an employee's or applicant's disability or religious beliefs. This seems simple enough - be "reasonable." Yet as many business professionals and lawyers know all too well, there is a great deal of room for differences of opinion as to what constitutes a "reasonable accommodation." Considerable effort (and litigation) has gone into defining what is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (for religion). For its part the EEOC has routinely pushed the envelope; it expects employers to go to great lengths to satisfy their obligation to reasonably accommodate workers. Recent cases dealing with accommodations in the form of service dogs, sign-language interpreters, extended leaves of absence and adjusted work schedules, are just some of the positions taken by the EEOC in litigation (with varying degrees of success). Here are some examples:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law which prohibits employers (with at least 15 employees) from discriminating in the workplace based on such issues as religion.
There are a vast number of employers who have had to deal with employee issues related, in some way, to an "employee disability". There are very few situations arising under a workman's compensation scenario that do not require the employer to make "reasonable accommodation" to an individual who is returning to work from a workman's comp injury and needs "work hardening". That is just one of the few issues that arises and exposes an employer to the breadth of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
On August 26, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law House Bill 8 (HB8) that amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) by placing "new obligations on employers" with regard to their pregnant employees. While the law will not take effect until January 1, 2015, employers should be cognizant of the new obligations imposed upon them.